Monday, October 31, 2011

The Magic of iPhone

One of the greatest features of the iPhone has always been left out of the user guide.

I know it's uncouth, but everyone, soon enough, grudgingly admits that the iPhone changes forever the way they go to the bathroom. It's a Doo Doo Revolution, folks.

I don't get to have a phone on me at work, so locked up in a cubby, my baby doesn't do me much good on a bathroom break and I feel … disconnected. Not just because I don't have email to check or Birds to Anger, I think it's honestly because suddenly I have nothing to do or think about except what I'm already doing.

Honestly, I don't need to be so keenly aware of what happens while I'm sitting on the toilet. I don't need more than cursory sensory input of the whole process. I know what's going on. If there's a problem, I'll notice. I really just don't need to be involved with this process every step of the way.

Distract me with games or information, anything but what I'm siting down for.

That is the beauty of my magic glowing rectangle. That is why I love it and desire to never be apart from it. Thank you, Steve. And Gods bless you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Luck

The other day I found out a class I was teaching for work got pushed back a week, so I'd have my birthday off!

Later that night I discovered I also suddenly has the whole weekend off with a saturday free!

Then it snowed a foot of the white stuff.

Now I'm a little worried my birthday will coincide with some other type of weather-related -pocalypse.

Ah, well, maybe Thanksgiving will be beach weather.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Curious George

Having just reread today the opening pages of Curious George, I feel confident saying that it is a twisted and sick tale to be telling children, right up there with the Brothers Grimm and their horrifying tellings of decidedly deadly tales long since watered down by less stringent parents and foolhardy endeavors such as "personal liberties" and "basic human dignity."

The monkey, who should have been naturally selected out of the gene pool a dozen times over due chiefly to his own incompetence and unnatural dwelling, isn't even an issue. I'm more concerned about that goldenrod-obsessed bastard.

It's pretty evident that the Man in the Yellow Hat is at worst a poacher and a game smuggler. At best he's just an inadvertent flaunter of international customs regulations. He's on safari in Africa and sees a monkey he likes. "This is George. He lives in Africa." Those are the first lines.

Enter the obsessed kidnapper: "Oh, what a cute monkey!" he says (paraphrased). "I want to take him home with me!" (direct quote). The next few pages are George finding the man's hat, wearing it, and then getting tied up in a sack and thrown in a dingy which rows him out to a steamer. The Man keeps him locked in his private cabin all the way back to New York (several weeks I'd imagine by steam liner). Then he puts him in his apartment until he miraculously breaks free and is rescued by firemen.

Who then return him to his captor.

Kidnapping, forced imprisonment, brainwashing (what do you think the doctor in Curious George Goes to the Doctor was all about? He's a monkey. SIV? AIDS? Was the MitYH also a beastial rapist?), oh, and trafficking of an endangered species across international boarders. That's got a whole host of health concerns right there, too.

Wait. Sex with African chimpanzees and mysterious drug cocktails in 1939? My god.

The Man in the Yellow Hat brought AIDS down upon us all. You yellow bastard.

Friday, October 28, 2011

King Tut Tooted

The pyramid was loud that night,
As all the servants hooted,
But nothing made quite such a stir,
As when young King Tut Tooted.

That's an idea I recently had for a children's book. It would be called "King Tut Tooted" and would be based around one epic Pharaoh fart.…The artwork would be the important thing for the kids, maybe with some archeology jokes for parents hidden away.

But yeah, it'd be a book of rhyming butt jokes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Demand On-Demand | Instant Gratification Culture Has Ruined Me

I have a stack of books in my "To Read" pile, and another dozen of so out on the book shelf that I just never got around to, to say nothing at all of those books I acquired and donated to charity without ever so much as reading a chapter.

Throughout the year I also have about three or four television programs at any given time, which I follow as they air. During lulls I may also watch another show's past seasons on Netflix, where I keep a modest queue of maybe 15 titles either to stream for the above reasons, or because I'd like to have them available on my account when I'm at a friend's house and they don't have a copy of, say, Good Will Hunting. (This has never once happened.)

I read about nine or ten ongoing monthly comic books, plus three or four manga titles on a more sporadic basis.

I have to restrain myself from the urge to download an artist's entire discography when I discover I like a single song over a club's stack of speakers. Because it's out there. It's there to be had. Barring a desire to not break (alright, irreparably shatter into infinitesimal pieces) copyright law, I could have all these things instantly.

And yet my nightstand is still a tiny cupboard filled with books, on which a shelf has been fashioned out of more books. I still have shelves covering all remaining wall space filled with books I've yet to really read, a hard drive filled with comics not yet read, and queues to keep me busy for weeks, were I to make their un-queueing my day job.

And I'm still thinking of getting a DVR so that I can see my live shows whenever I want, because this "waiting eight days for online availability" things is bullshit.

No wonder I can't sit down to read a book for an hour. I have too many screens to watch and not enough eyes for the job.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protecting Children from Harm: It Will Kill Us All

A couple weeks ago I saw a kid wandering around with a toy gun, all brightly colored in blue with a big orange tip. He was shooting it at random things, possibly even "bad guys" in his mind.

I tried playfully ducking behind objects, as if dodging his shots, giving him a real live, moving target to play with. I looked back to enjoy the delight on his face.


He was confounded.

Too well had this child been trained to "Never point guns at people." He didn't even know why he would do such a thing. It doesn't matter that he had a toy gun, or that it could never be mistaken for the real thing. I doubt he had any conception that "bad guys" could also be real people. He simply knew never to engage in this certain behavior, which made my ducking and dipping rather confusing, I suppose.

Well, there goes the future of our armed forces.

When I was little, They had just mandated the little orange tips on toy guns, mostly after plenty of kids got shot dead by on-duty officers who thought they were holding real weapons, pointed their direction.

Hell, I nearly got in trouble in college for holding a B.B. gun in between scenes of a student film. This kind of stuff really happens. But that's all over now.

Along with Scooby-Doo's Velma and Shaggy dating and more than 151 different kinds of Pokémon, guns are now ruined for children.

If not for the counterbalance of adult-sized automatic Nerf guns of disturbingly realistic battle features, I would expect us to be overrun with French legions by 2065.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lady Gaga Isn't the Only One Pole Dancing in Barns

They recently installed some new tables where I work, that have square metal poles rising to the ceiling, ostensibly to carry power supplies unobtrusively from the rafters down to the table innards.

However until merchandise of any kind ends up on those tables, it just looks like a really uncomfortable strip-tease waiting to happen.

Oh, I don't mean it'd be weird to get a lap dance in a book store. Actually, I'm 100% sure there's a business model for that and it's already being employed somewhere in Portland, OR.

I just think it would hurt your hands, trying to hold onto and then swing from a square pole. First you try it, then you realize how badly it pains you mid-maneuver, let go out of sheer reflex, and then fall off the table, centrifugal force hurling you face-first outward and downward, from a starting position of three feet plus you initial height at time of launch.

However, I must say I am intrigued by the idea of cute, farm-fresh country girls wearing red plaid and Daisy Dukes "square pole dancing." That's some wild stuff they'd be doing down South.

Y'all have a good time now, y'hear?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ask Siri | Oh Snap

 So I got the iPhone 4S today. My 2 Year upgrade was available and since I forced that iOS5 upgrade last week, the old 3GS was getting a little buggy.

Also, I was dying for the new 4S. Shut up, I don't have to justify anything to you.

Anyway, since Siri is such a fun feature that everyone has to play with it, I thought I'd share some fun experiences of it with you, after solliciting Twitter and Facebook for some … interesting queries.

Here's a rather simple foray, identity.

My Jobs, it's self-aware!

Now a somewhat harder question. Even The Riddler never figured this one out, just a few teenagers and immortals and random burglers from time to ti-



 Alright, at the behest of my little brother, perhaps we should endeavor to domesticate this sapient machine.

…Apparently Siri is not familiar with the process of making sandwiches.

My friend Jason (not "Todd") said to ask "If a woman's natural habitat is the kitchen," but that just resulted in a map marking the nearest kitchen & bath store to me.

Liz asks, "When will I get laid?"

Siri suggested we search the web for "When will Liz get laid?"

Because that is a good idea.

Maybe if we turn on porn private browsing mode.

 Fine, let's get a little whimsical, here. This is the question I asked a display model the other day while I was waiting for help with my billing.

It's also the same answer I got then. I appreciate the Hitchhiker's Guide reference, but also the back-sass. I'm happy my phone has some back-sass to it.

In fact, why don't we go full out and ask the question I've been dying to ask.

Originally, I asked, "What is the meaning of life?" and it spouted something about a "deep philosophical question concerning the natural of life's purpose."

Then it said, "A movie."

The next time it said,
Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and races.
 Then I just asked the way I should have asked: "What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?"

(Plus some sourcing by Wolfram Alpha).

Marvelous. I'm interested in what other people might like to ask.

I'm also curious is Siri can comprehend lousy Christopher Walken impersonations.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ballsy Costumes of NY Comic Con 2011 (for which I had to scrounge flickr)

These probably would have made the list this year, if I had been able to get pictures of them when I first saw them. Since I didn't, I trolled flicker through 37 pages of "ny comic con 2011" tags and got most of them. All photos were free-use, except for the ones I stole for my personal collection. Sadly, you're not allowed to see those here.

X-Men - Man-Phoenix

Pretty sure I can see exactly how ballsy this guy was.

The Family Guy - Meg Griffin

This girl wasn't hideous, but she was pretty plain and kind of frumpy. All-in-all, it was an incredibly bold move to dress up like such a loathed character. That's just inviting hilarious punishment from fans "playing along."
X-Men - Dazzler

So … those might not technically be "balls," but I could certainly strip down to my skivvies on a beach and volley those back and forth in slow motion as keytar riffs from Kenny Loggins' "Playing with the Boys" echos through the surf, if you know what I mean.

Dr. Who - TARDIS Girl & Weeping Angel

You had a pretty sweet TARDIS dress, and the police box hat you made was the better of those I saw. Your weeping angel friend was really well down also, but I couldn't find your photos online.
Final Fantasy - (Black) Black Mage

The one I mistook for Orko last year was a bold move.

However, that guy didn't have to worry about all the "black" jokes. Ballsy move, Black Black Mage.

South Park - Girl Mysterion

That was a wicked question mark you had on your sweet-ass cape. Brava.
The Legend of Zelda - Navi

Why it's ballsy:

Because everyone wants to fucking kill you.

The Venture Bros. - Female Hench-Person

You could have gone for the Dr. Girlfriend, or Dr. Mrs. The Monarch like eight other women, or her White Queen costume, or even just plain college-age Sheila.

Instead, you went for the equal opportunity cosplay. Well done.
Final Fantasy VII - Sephiroth and Jenova

One is a pretty girl, and the other has a giant penis…

…coming out of her blue navel.

Star Trek - Fat Admiral Kirk

That was ballsy. Not only was your admiral's uniform movie-accurate, you padded your frame pretty plumply.

Had Robert Kirkman wandered past me on his cell phone, trying to locate a lost associate, I totally would have stopped you for my first picture taking opportunity Thursday preview.

But, man, Kirkman's got a powerful beard.
The Venture Bros. - Sgt. Hatred

So, you're overweight, over 25, and you're going to dress up like a known pedophile. Awesome. Great. Where's Chris Hansen?

(And no, he's not 'reformed' when he's wearing that costume.)

X-Men - Wolverine (Height Accurate)

Short of not having the perfect, admittedly huge and complex facial hair, you were my favorite Wolverine this year, because you were, well, short. You might have actually been 5'3", which would put you at just about eye level with the comic book depiction of Logan. Plus, I was just wishing for a short Wolvy about 5 minutes before you walked by, Saturday, so that was really convenient.

Fastball Special!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Thought rom Retail

I defy you to show me a single factory worker who prefers to cut away from himself with a box cutter.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Best Costumes of NY Comic Con 2011

New York Comic Con this year had certainly fewer costumes than last year, but upon inspection of what I deemed the best of the best, I have to say that the average upper-tier costumes were a grade above what I was expecting. To that end, this year I am announcing a few categories for costumes of different types.

First the second-runner-up category, Thank You for Not Sucking. These costumes are usually so terribly done that to craft and enact one well is itself a meritorious feat.

Photo © Alex Erde
1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Midna (imp form)

This is a costume usually performed by an overweight girl of modest stature donning a baggy, painted Lycra suit, flecking paint. Not only was this girl's headdress perfect, she had the height appropriate to an imp. She still had curves appropriate to the character, but the shape was right and so was the bodysuit.

Makeup and prosthetics were top-shelf, so thank you, Random, Possibly Asian-Looking girl, for taking an overused and under performing character and letting her shine.

2. Panty & Stocking with Garter belt - Panty and Stocking

I saw a few Stockings, throughout the weekend, but I suppose a decent number of those could have also been generic gothic lolita fashion girls, as opposed to simple, poorly executed Stocking costumes.

Panty is looking like a complete bitch who thinks she's wat hotter than she actually is, which–frankly–is perfectly in character. Considering they were also with another couple girls cosplaying related show characters, They are granted bonus points.

Thank you, Not-Sucky P&S!

3. Durarara - Celty

There were two or three Celtys in total this year, but this was the only one I saw who was the right height, the right gender, the right physique, and had both a (well-fitted) motorcycle suit and a real motorcycle helmet. Even the "ears" were made of the same material as the rest of the helmet.

Plus she had her scythe with her.

For those not familiar with the cute ensemble cast show recently airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim anime Saturdays block, Celty is a "dulahan," a Celtic faerie type that is immortal, powerful, and carries her own head around with her while riding her horse across the countryside.

Of course, Celty 'lost' her head and with it her memories, so she turned her horse into a bike and set off to find her head, wherever it went.

Thank you, Not Sucky Celty.

Extra Nerdy Awards

Photo © Alex Erde
1. Internet - Longcat

Thank you, internet, and thank you, all of you people who made a Chinese dragon of Longcat and paraded around the Javits center holding this monstrosity.

Your work and sense of humor (and camaraderie) is greatly appreciated.

Photo © Alex Erde

2. Axe Cop - Axe Cop

An ordinary cop, until he picked up a fireman's axe and became … Axe Cop.

Originally, this was a comic drawn by a talented artist depicting stories narrated verbatim by his–I think–then nine-year old cousin.


3. Mega Man - Cutman (vintage)

This costume is wonderful in how bad parts of it are, while other parts remain incredible: boots, gloves, and especially helmet - all awesome. Look at that, he cut sheet metal to the proper configuration and bolted it stylishly to a batting helmet. Well done!

Then again, he's out of shape–was he ever in-shape to begin with?–goateed, and is wearing a baggy, white sweatsuit.

This is what I talk about when I say that a crappy costume, meant to be crappy, can be awesome.

Best Cross-Gender Costumes

Photo © Alex Erde
1. The Labyrinth - Female Jareth (David Bowie)

Dude, I'd consider banging David Bowie in The Labyrinth and he's still technically a guy. (Though, if I may quote Family Guy, "Androgynous enough that we could both feel attracted to him and it not be weird.")

Props on the epic hair, perfect to character, the frilly blouse, vest, gloves, and the contact juggling ball. Really, the only inaccuracies here are

a) I don't think she has a penis, and
b) Her eyes are both brown. But I begrudge no one for not possessing dichromia like Bowie and I.

Photo © Alex Erde
2. X-Men - Female Gambit

First off, really cute Asian girl. Who's into comics. And has fashion sense. Thank you.

Secondly, this was by fath the best Gambit costume I saw all weekend. Thursday I saw one that might have been on-par, but it was movie Gambit, not comics Gambit.

This one is badass, appropriately tailored, and altered only in so far as the costume needs to fit a woman's frame instead of a Cajun man's. It is faithful to the comics, the '90s cartoon, and about 837,000 fanboy fantasies now, I'd suspect.

Photo © Alex Erde
3. Iron Man - Female Tony Stark

Again, Asian girls just seem to have more technical prowess than us white boys.

Alex dragged me over to get a picture with my counterpart to the costume I wore last year.

Alright, I had a real beard, but my chest piece was a Tap Light© covered in gorilla tape and strung around my neck with twine.

This girl built a fully working Arc light prop from internet tutorials and glued it in place with bandage tape.

Oh, and she's currently working on the Mk III "triangle" piece.

Most impressive.

Photo © Alex Erde
4. Conan O'Brien - The Flaming C


Obscure, accurate, flamboyant, and–like all good Rule 63–perfectly altered for depiction by the opposite gender.

Girl even had a hand-made jai alai scoop!

Also, epaulets are totally in fashion right now. Women's clothing really picked up on the men's military dress trend.

5. Deadpool - Deadpool in a German Bar Maid Dress

To be fair, I don't think this was a woman.

I took a look just to be sure, and those boobs were not exactly in the proper placement and orientation for real boobs, nor did they possess a natural form as (s)he walked. Also: almost no hair.

Based on gait and physiology, I had to surmise that this was a man wearing a Deadpool costume, who then donned a beer wench costume.


Because Deadpool, that's why. Of course he would do that. I'm sure it even made sense. To him. For like a second at least.

Nice gams.

Adventure Time Awards

 I am giving an aware to everyone who wore awesome Adventure Time costumes.

1. Manliest Finn

2. Most amazing  Fiona.

Not only did she nail the costume, she had a sick Cake the Cat, and her friend there was dressed as the male version of Marceline (canonically called "Marshall Lee," a name a refuse to acknowledge in favor of "Man-Celine).

Manceline even has a hyper-sweet reproduction of Marceline's battle "axe."

They were amazing and I love them both forever.

3. Best Cake the Cat

This was a crocheted backpack critter type thing. I don't think it held or did anything, just hung around this girl's back.

I felt like a total skeever taking this picture too, because the girl was like 15 but I couldn't resist such a sweet, sweet crochet job.

4. Most accurate Princesses

Alright, Princess Bubblegum I could take or leave. She was well done here, but honestly, if not for her voice actor in the show, I don't care for the character. Too easy.

Lumpy Space Princess, on the other hand, that is an impressive costume.

That's a ballsy move for the little girl inside that big, purple cloud shape. All hot and gross inside, suffering for her comedy.

Because make no mistake, the only reason to go as Lumpy Space Princess when you could be Bubblegum or Fiona, or anybody else, is it is hilarious.

Photo © Alex Erde
5. Best Universe-Shattering Slash Fiction

Him: A Finn cosplayer

Her: A Fionna devotee.

Together: The most adorable couple's costume at the whole con.

Somewhere, Pendleton Ward just sat down after experiencing a great disturbance in the Time, as if thousands of voices suddenly cried out in cheer on the internet and began furiously typing up fan fiction, then were suddenly never silenced ever.

Just Awesome Costumes:

(In no particular order.)

Photo © Alex Erde
X-Men - Archangel

Blue face paint is a commitment.

Giant steel wings that must weigh a ton and could probably really hurt someone or at the very least impare your mobility in a crowded convention center:

That's some semper fi marine shit, right there.

Photo © Alex Erde
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Casey Jones

Yeah, I'm ignoring April O'Neil here.

I'll tell you why:

First: she's not that good. I saw a much sexier, much more cartoon-accurate April on Thursday, and if you remember the cartoon, you remember that girl had some Barbie-doll level of impossible proportions on her. And Thursday's April met them. Pretty sure she was even a natural redhead.

Secondly: Casey just kicks ass here. Ratty old golf bag full of five-irons and hockey sticks? 2000s accurate cartoon mask? Hell, by that iteration of Casey, even the sweat pants, sneakers, short shirt, and ties/wraps are accurate. Plus, he brought an entire girlfriend as an accessory, and she has her own accessories. She's like a Ken doll, to stretch the previous analogy.

Hellblazer - John Constantine

Perfect costume, with "lit" cigarette (think it was an LED), and the schtick of following around other obscure comics heroes and skulking in the background of their photo opportunities?

That's John, for you.

Darkwing Duck - Darkwing Duck, Morganna Webb, and Megavolt

… Just … I-

Simply amazing. So freaking funny, accurate while also more realistically anthropomorphic, amazing accessories for everyone, and, I don't know if you can see this so I'll give you a little close-up:

Those duck feat are made from three pairs of Converse All-Stars painted orange and white.

They used the same technique in the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle "Theodore Rex."


Photo © Alex Erde
X-Men - Hank McCoy

Speaking of blue before, here's some commitment for you:

Dressing like a giant nerd at a convention of nerds nerdy enough to know how big a nerd you are for pretending to be a specific giant nerd.

Who is also blue.

And dressed like an associate professor a at state school.

Epic facial hair, though.

Marvel Comics - Luke Cage (1970s)

Okay, you can't really tell much scale here, but this guy was, no lie, not shorter than 6'10". He was just enormous. People were walking by him and grown men stopped at his collar bone.

Plus the costume was 100% comic book accurate. Forget all the She-Hulks in "4" leotards I saw all weekend, Luke Cage is my favorite substitute Fantastic Four member from this day forward.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Master Shake

Asked if he had anything to say after the costume contest, Shake had only this to utter:
I should have been in the contest.

That straw's a giant foam pool noodle, by the way.

Photo © Alex Erde
Another giant man.

This one dressed as The Rhino, from Spider-Man, complete with latex chest pieces and headgear, and just generally gargantuan arms.

The feet are a nice touch, to grab attention away from the mamoth sweat pants.

Batman Forever - The Riddler (Jim Carey iteration)

This is another bold move.

Both for the leotard on someone so gangly, and the hair, but in-character both work perfectly. He was also flappy and jaunty and doing a lot of physical stuff Carey did in the movie.

It's also bold since that was a terrible movie and the worst version of The Riddler. I'm not saying it was Batman and Robin bad, but it was the next thing over.

This kid pulled it off, though.

A Nightmare Before Christmas - Jack Skellington

This guy actually won the costume contest. Amazing tailoring, and if you couldn't tell, the walking stick is because in order to look appropriately freakish and lanky, this guy was walking around on stilts.

Batman - Bane

This is the guy I was actually rooting for to win the costume contest.

Paul, as I found out, says,
"I have never seen someone as Bane who was in shape. They were all either fat or wearing a muscle suit. So I worked out like crazy and dieted for 6 months lol.
LoL, indeed, Paul! Not only was his costume spot-on, he pulled out all the stops with matching shape and having poses and a full act handy, where he would drag Batman around all day by the limp ankles of neck, and then "break" him over his knee with a lumbar-twinging floppiness anyone familiar with the comics is ecstatic to witness. You can see a sweet pictorial and write-up of it here.

Paul doesn't have a website, but if you're interested in seeing his other work, he has a Dark Knight-styled short film giving the Nolan treatment to the origin of Harley Quinn over on YouTube.